Parking bans cramp Avon river access |

Parking bans cramp Avon river access

NICOLE FREY Eagle County correspondent

AVON – Kyle Carstensen methodically pounded a large rod into the dusty ground on the side of a street. With the pole firmly in the earth, he fastened a large black, white and red sign to it. One down, eight to go.”RESTRICTED AREA, No Parking,” the sign proclaimed. Along the short section of West Hurd Lane leading up to the Riverfront Village construction site in Avon, the signs reinforced a single, simple message: No one allowed. The end of the road opens to a wide piece of land that will one day hold a new gondola to Beaver Creek, a hotel, timeshares, condos, restaurants and shops. But in the past, the land was used to host summer rodeos and as an impromptu parking lot for kayakers and rafters who accessed the Eagle River nearby. And it wasn’t just individual boaters – even raft companies were using the bare land to unload or pick up loads of boats and passengers. Until recently, everyone assumed the land was open to the public, so the response hasn’t been pretty since developer East West Partners cut off access to the parking lot. “A lot of people are really upset about it,” said Ross Herr, an employee of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards. “It’s a pain that (the developer) didn’t consider how popular that spot was.”Boaters were so upset when they discovered construction workers putting up fencing between the river and the parking lot that they confronted the workers, who eventually called police May 9. While other kayakers and rafters are disheartened by the development, some cautioned others to be respectful of private property and traded other launch and take-out options on an online forum at Chuck Madison of East West Partners and Avon officials have been swamped with phone calls from agitated boaters recently, but Madison said he had no idea the spot was so popular with kayakers and rafters. Robin Behrstock, East West Partners’ special projects manager, confirmed only the parking area is closed to the public. The bike path along the river can still be used to access the river – it just takes more work now that there isn’t any parking. “The construction site, in general, isn’t safe,” she said. While there may never be parking access for kayakers and rafters at Riverfront Village again, East West Partners is designing two access points to the river that will be landscaped with lights and picnic tables. “Unfortunately, there may not be a good answer for this,” Madison said.

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